DOT affirms commitment to help fund critically impacted tourism businesses

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat affirmed the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) commitment to allocate funds for critically impacted tourism businesses under the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act or Bayanahin 2 bill. 

DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat

“The DOT remains firm in our position to allocate the funds of the “Bayanihan to Recover As One Act” for the assistance of critically impacted businesses in the tourism industry in the form of working capital loans through GFIs (government financial institutions) and to establish COVID-19 testing centers in tourist destinations,” Puyat said in a text message. 

The DOT, along with other tourism stakeholders from various associations, have been calling on lawmakers from the Senate and House of Representatives to reconcile tourism-related provisions in the proposed Bayanihan 2 measure amid the budget realignment issue. 

Both the DOT and the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP), the umbrella organization of all private tourism enterprises, submitted their respective position papers to Congress to appeal the matter. 

The DOT’s position paper specifically suggested to both houses of Congress that of the P10 billion allocation, P9.5 billion should be used to finance programs for critically impacted businesses while P500 million will go to various support programs that would further aid the recovery and operations of the industry toward the “new normal.” 

“These are part of the programs identified in the Senate version of the bill and we continue to appeal that the funds be dedicated to help our stakeholders who have been among the hardest-hit by the pandemic, incurring huge financial losses since March,” Puyat added. 

Since the imposition of lockdown early March until July, the Philippine tourism industry lost around P190 billion in revenue compared to the figures last year. 

“We affirm therefore that at this stage of the crisis where we are now looking at the recovery and resiliency of the industry, our priority based on consultations with the stakeholders are fiscal and monetary measures supporting tourism directly. These will range from economic relief to tourism businesses, rather than an infrastructure component which is not the priority at the moment,” the DOT said in the position paper.